North Sandia Crest

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103

North Sandia Crest

North Sandia Crest Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Sandia Mountains tower over Albuquerque, rising abruptly from the east side of the city. A trail follows the dramatic crest of the mountains from the south end of the range in Tijeras Canyon to near the village of Placitas on the north side. This hike follows the northern section of the trail.

The trail is most easily done with a car shuttle. It is far easier to start the hike at the top of the tramway and hike north, mostly downhill, than to start at Tunnel Spring and hike up. If you do not want to take the tram, drive up the back side of the mountains all the way up NM 536 to the top at Sandia Crest. Be sure to start early to avoid thunderstorms, especially in late summer during the monsoon season. Quite a bit of the hike crosses exposed ridges and meadows."

North Sandia Crest Reviews

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We chose North Crest for the abiltiy to access it from either the Tram or from the Hwy ending at the Crest House and because we could descend first and then ascend on the back end of the hike back to the Crest House parking lot. The winds were uncharacteristically calm for Sandia Crest. This is a great trail for its countless views to both the east and west, green forested mountain peaks vs high desert mesas, respectively. North Crest trail begins with a presentation of modern technology on your left as you follow the fence protecting the “electronic site” for a great distance. For those of you not familiar with Albuquerque, Sandia being one of the highest peaks in the state is also home to all things television, radio and cellular. Probably 50 towers transmit and receive from the Crest. Immediately upon the end of the fence you are ironically greeted by a US Forest Service sign proclaiming “Wilderness”, just don’t turn around, the “electronic forest” is over your left shoulder. The trail descends here into a fairly dense tree line. Since it usually snows and is wind beaten up here the vegetation is hardy, comprised of aspens, and conifers. Only small traces of snow exist along the trail. True to its name, the Crest trail closely follows the edge of the mountain, we took several 100 ft or so spur trails to avail ourselves of views of miles of the Rio Grande valley and points west. A variety of mountain outcroppings and canyons are also observed. About 3 miles into the trail we have descended several hundred feet and eastern views also become more prevalent. The vegetation is more windswept, lower to the ground and much more dried out or devoid of deciduous leaves. There are a couple of stone benches in this area overlooking the valley and with northwest views. Another ¼ mile with steep descent we come upon the Placitas overlook at 11:30 a.m., time for a snack, photos and consideration of the return trip UP.
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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
6–7 hours one-way
Mid-May through October
Additional Use
Cibola National Forest, 11776 Hwy. 337, Tijeras, NM 87059; (505) 281-3304;
Local Contacts
Sandia Mountain Wilderness; Cibola National Forest–Sandia Ranger District; Sandia Crest and Placitas 7.5-minute USGS quads
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018